In my wildest dreams, I could not have predicted a Peach Bowl date with Michigan (noon, ESPN or WatchESPN) being the end of this Florida Gators season, the first under Dan Mullen as head coach.
I thought Florida would stumble more than it did, and fail to reach the top speeds it showed possible in its best outings. I thought Mullen had less talent on hand that he appears to have — which is either an indictment of my own assessments, or of how little his predecessor managed to do with the same players and a testament to how much Mullen and his staff know about coaching football.
I thought an eight-win season would be a damn good year, and that nine wins would have been Florida scraping the ceiling with its scalp. Instead, the Gators might feel disappointed to have won only nine games, and eager to get their 10th by skinning some Wolverines on this Saturday.
Florida playing Michigan isn’t a thrilling matchup for fans who have seen it often of late. But the Gators players who remember one or two stinging losses to Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines? They may want revenge, extracted on a big stage in Atlanta. They may want to plant a metaphorical flag for the world to see after being hasty to do that literally after stomping out a moribund Florida State team in their last outing.
Florida is rising. Michigan is risen. Which team should be hungrier, of those two?
And will it matter if Michigan has been slightly to significantly better this season in a glorified exhibition if some of the key reasons that Michigan has been as good as it has are watching this game in sweats on the sidelines? Florida has its full roster ready for this game; Michigan is missing Devin Bush, and Rashan Gary, and Karan Higdon, who are smartly preserving their futures and limiting their team as a result.
The script looks like it is heading to a Florida win, at least to me.
But scripts can have twists.
Let’s hope today’s is a bit more traditional.